Wednesday, April 17, 2013

To Fight Monsters

Originally posted on my Tumblr:

Seriously: circulating photos you and yer Scooby Doo crimefighter pals have determined to be of the Boston Bomber is criminally stupid
— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) April 17, 2013

The fact that half the posts on my FB feed are about 4Chan and other groups having "found" the bombing suspect is inredibly infuriating for several reasons. Yes, I get it, we want to know who did this, why, and to see them brought to justice. Contrary to what the 24-hour news cycle and TV police prodecurals would have us believe however, this shit takes time.
First off, the FBI needs to make sure they nab the right person. Getting the wrong person early because the public demands results will only send the actual bomber further underground and muddy the investigation. Second, horrific act of terrorism or not, we have due process in this country. Attempts to expedite or bypass the rule of law will only lead to chaos, confusion, and more harm than good. Doing things right takes time.
What really pisses me off though is the way that people are praising the amateur sleuthing being done on the internet based off of the scant images the average (or even privileged) person has access to. The kind of "detective" work going on with these pictures is exactly the kind of witch hunt that people regularly criticize in their arguments against increased public surveillance via drones, CCTV cameras, etc. I won't post them here so as not to validate them, but these pictures showing people circled in crowds at the marathon are the most baseless kind of "evidence" I have ever seen.
"This backpack looks like the blown up one in the police photo" - Good thing all backpacks are as unique as fingerprints and no two people can have the same one.
"This guy is standing off to the side and not looking at the race" - Because there's no reason someone would ever turn their head from the finish line during a race, not for a moment.
"This guy has a backpack on in this picture, but not in this other one" - Because Boylston street is not surrounded by offices, places of business, apartments, condos or anywhere else that someone may have relieved their burden.
This is the "logic" that these pictures are ascribing to the crime scene and it is both ludicrous and dangerous. This is the kind of half-assed circumstantial evidence that people start beating their chests over when they think that "Big Brother" is going to take their rights away. The FBI at least seem to be doing the opposite and taking their time to get the job done right. They're not the monsters who are jumping to conclusions based on blurred images and inference, we are. Stop giving these people your time and attention. Let the experts do their jobs. Stop expecting instant gratification and wait for the job to get done right. This is too public an area and too public an event for the person who perpetrated this evil to stay anonymous for long. They will be found and justice will be served.

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